Northwestern rewards Chris Collins with 3-year contract extension

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
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EVANSTON, Ill. — Northwestern rewarded coach Chris Collins for a bounce-back season and the school’s second NCAA tournament appearance with a three-year contract extension through 2028, the school announced.

Collins is the only coach in the program’s 118-year history to lead Northwestern to the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats made it for the first time in 2017 before enduring five straight losing seasons.

Northwestern turned it around in a big way in 2022-23, going 22-12 and tying for second in the Big Ten at 12-8. The Wildcats beat Boise State in the tournament before losing to UCLA. Collins split Big Ten Coach of the Year honors with Purdue’s Matt Painter.

Collins said in a statement he is “thankful” to Northwestern President Michael H. Schill and athletic director Derrick Gragg for “showing the confidence in me to continue to lead Northwestern Basketball.”

“It’s a responsibility that I love and embrace,” he added. “To have the opportunity to be a part of accomplishing so many firsts in the history of the basketball program during my tenure has been special, and I can’t wait to get to work to pursue more amazing moments in the future.”

Collins is 156-162 in 10 years. His future was in doubt prior to the season, but with star guard Boo Buie leading the way, the Wildcats turned things around.

They had their best finish in the Big Ten since the 1958-59 team tied for second and knocked off a team ranked No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time when they beat Purdue at home on Feb. 12. They were 4-2 against ranked opponents, including a pair of wins over Indiana.

“The success Coach Collins achieved last season and the momentum he has built around our men’s basketball program is a remarkable accomplishment,” Gragg said.

Collins, whose dad Doug played and coached in the NBA, seemed like the perfect fit when he was hired to replace the fired Bill Carmody in 2013.

Growing up about 10 miles from Welsh Ryan Arena in suburban Northbrook, he was chosen Mr. Basketball in Illinois. He went on to star at Duke and spent 13 years as an assistant under Mike Krzyzewski before taking over at Northwestern.

Everything seemed to fall into place his first few seasons. And then, it all fell apart.

Northwestern won 20 games in back-to-back seasons and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 2017, beating Vanderbilt before losing to Gonzaga. But instead of emerging as a consistent winner, the Wildcats careened off course.

Northwestern went 60-90 overall and 26-71 in conference play over the next five years. The heat on Collins was so high following the 2021-22 season that Gragg released a statement saying the coach would get at least one more season to turn around his struggling program.

Northwestern beats Boise State 75-67 in March Madness

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Boo Buie scored 22 points to lead Northwestern to a win in the school’s second appearance ever in the NCAA Tournament, 75-67 over Boise State on Thursday.

The seventh-seeded Wildcats (22-11) previously made it to the Big Dance in 2017, and just like that time, they made sure they wouldn’t be one-and-done.

Northwestern never trailed in a game that was close most of the way and advanced to play either UCLA or UNC Asheville in the second round of the West Region.

The 10th-seeded Broncos (24-10) are still searching for their first tournament win, losing their opener for the ninth time in as many tries. Max Rice scored 17 points to lead Boise State and Naje Smith added 14.

Chase Audige added 20 points for the Wildcats and Ty Berry scored 13, including three 3-pointers.

The Bulldogs fell behind by 10 points early but fought back to tie the game at 40 early in the second half when Rice hit his second 3-pointer of the half.

The game was tight most of the way before Northwestern finally built the lead back to 10 on a tip-in by Brooks Barnhizer with 3:15 to go.


Broncos guard Marcus Shaver Jr. had to be helped off the court after going down with an apparent leg injury late in the first half. He came out of locker room late after halftime and returned to the game.


Boise State: With four returning starters from last year’s tournament team, including three seniors, the Broncos hoped this year’s team could be the one finally to break through. They fell to 0-4 in the tournament under coach Leon Rice.

Northwestern: After finishing second in the Big Ten for the first time since the 1958-59 season, the Wildcats made sure this special season wouldn’t come to an early finish. Northwestern lost in the second round to Gonzaga in 2017 after beating Vanderbilt in its tournament debut.


Northwestern is seeking its first trip to the Sweet 16.

Houston, Alabama top AP Top 25; Marquette climbing, Pitt in

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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The top five spots in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll remained the same. The rest of the AP Top 25 was a big jumble.

Houston was No. 1 for the second straight week in the poll released Monday, receiving 49 first-place votes from a 62-person media panel. No. 2 Alabama had five first-place votes and No. 3 Kansas received eight.

UCLA and Purdue rounded out the top five. The Boilermakers held at No. 5 despite losing to No. 15 Indiana.

In the rest of the poll, only No. 20 Providence kept the same position from last week as teams get ready for conference tournaments next week and the start of March Madness.

Alabama held its spot after winning two games despite a challenging week off the court. Brandon Miller had a pair of huge games since police alleged that he brought a gun to former teammate Darius Miles, who is charged with capital murder in a fatal shooting.

Against Arkansas on Saturday, Miller’s regular pregame introduction with a Crimson Tide reserve player giving him a pat down didn’t sit well with coach Nate Oats – or anyone else.

“I can assure you it definitely will not happen again the remainder of this year,” Oats said.

Miller had 24 points in the 86-83 win over the Razorbacks after scoring 41 in a two-point win over South Carolina.


Marquette has made a quick rise under coach Shaka Smart.

The Golden Eagles wrapped up a share of their first Big East regular-season title in a decade with a 90-84 win over DePaul on Saturday and climbed four spots in this week’s poll to No. 6. It is Marquette’s highest ranking hitting No. 1 in 1977-78.


Houston moved into the top spot last week and held onto it after a pair of routs last week. The Cougars’ 76-57 win at East Carolina on Saturday clinched the American Athletic Association regular-season championship, the fourth time in five seasons they’ve at least shared the conference title.

“Our kids know how to win – I say that a lot,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “But we’ve figured out how to play our system, be unselfish.”


Marquette matched No. 14 UConn and No. 18 San Diego State with the week’s biggest jump among teams in the poll, each climbing four spots.

No. 13 Virginia took the biggest tumble, losing seven spots following losses to Boston College and North Carolina last week.


No. 21 Maryland is back in the AP Top 25 after wins over Minnesota and then-No. 21 Northwestern.

No. 23 Kentucky returned to the poll after a seven-week absence. The Wildcats had a rapid fall from being No. 4 in the preseason poll, but reeled off wins over No. 12 Tennessee, Florida and Auburn.

No. 25 Pittsburgh is ranked for the first time since 2016 after beating Georgia Tech and Syracuse last week.

Northwestern’s return to the poll for the first time in two years didn’t last long. The Wildcats dropped out this week after losses to Maryland and Illinois.

Iowa State fell out from No. 23 after three straight losses and consecutive losses knocked out Creighton from No. 19.

Houston back at No. 1 as Northwestern makes AP Top 25 debut

Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Houston returned to No. 1 in the AP men’s college basketball poll for the third time this season while Northwestern and Texas A&M barged into the rankings after each had a pair of impressive wins last week

Houston returned to No. 1 in the AP men’s college basketball poll on Monday for the third time this season, while Northwestern and Texas A&M barged into the rankings after each had a pair of impressive wins last week.

The Cougars, riding a seven-game winning streak, jumped over Alabama and back into the top spot, where they spent two weeks in November and December and had another two-week stint last month. They picked up 48 first-place votes from the 62-member national media panel to lay claim to No. 1 with just two weeks left in the regular season.

“This is my fourth year coaching these guys. We’ve developed a really good program here,” said Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, referring to his veteran leaders that went to a Final Four two years ago and the Elite Eight last season. “But the emphasis is `we have.’ One person doesn’t do it. I’m proud of our program. I’m proud of everyone in it.”

The Crimson Tide dropped only one spot after losing to Tennessee and routing Georgia in their lone week at No. 1. They held onto seven first-place votes, while Kansas also earned seven to climb two spots to No. 3 in this week’s poll.

UCLA remained at No. 4 while Purdue slid two spots to round out of the top five.

“We’re not as good a basketball team, from a tactical standpoint, as last year’s basketball team yet,” said Jayhawks coach Bill Self, whose team is trying to become the first back-to-back national champions since Florida in 2006 and ’07. “From a competitive standpoint, this team is an equivalent, or on par, with that team.”

That was evident Saturday, when the Jayhawks rallied from 17 down to beat No. 9 Baylor 87-71 in Allen Fieldhouse.

Virginia was at No. 6 after beating Louisville and Notre Dame last week. Arizona was seventh while Texas fell two spots to eighth after losing to Texas Tech and needing overtime to beat Oklahoma. The Bears held their spot while Marquette moved into the top 10 for the first time since Feb. 25, 2019.

The Volunteers dropped to No. 11 after following up their win over Alabama with a loss to Kentucky. Gonzaga, Miami and Kansas State were next, with Saint Mary’s giving the West Coast Conference two teams in the top 15.

The Gaels (24-5, 13-1) and Bulldogs (23-5, 12-2) each play midweek games before their showdown on Saturday.

Xavier held steady at No. 16 this week while Indiana, UConn, Creighton and Providence rounded out the top 20.

Northwestern entered the poll for the first time in more than two years at No. 21 after following its upset of Purdue two weeks ago with wins over the Hoosiers and Iowa. San Diego State, Iowa State and TCU were next, with Texas A&M making it back into the poll after spending one week at No. 24 in November.

“We haven’t gotten ahead of ourselves,” Wildcats coach Chris Collins said. “We’ve had big aspirations of who we could be, and not many people believed it. I’m sure a lot of people laughed at them. But we had them and they were real. And these guys have followed up on it. But we’re still in the moment. For me, it’s not a time for reflection.

“We want more,” Collins continued. “We can reflect at the end of the year, when it’s all done in a month’s time. And we can look back at the ups and downs. But we’re trying our hardest right now to stay in the moment.”


The Wildcats, winners of five straight, and the Aggies entered the poll at the expense of North Carolina State and Florida Atlantic. The Wolfpack lost to Syracuse on Tuesday and the Owls lost to Middle Tennessee on Thursday.


There was very little movement in this week’s poll. Providence made the biggest climb at just four spots to No. 20 after wins over Creighton and Villanova. Iowa State likewise made the biggest fall at four sports to No. 23 after following a win over TCU with a loss to Kansas State on Saturday.


The Big 12 continues to lead the way with six teams in the AP Top 25 and Oklahoma State receiving a vote. The Big East has five teams in the poll – and all in the top 20 – while the SEC and Big Ten have three teams apiece.

Buie, Audige help Northwestern beat No. 1 Purdue 64-58

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

EVANSTON, Ill. – As Northwestern struggled through the past couple seasons, Boo Buie and Chase Audige learned some tough lessons – on poise, and finishing strong, and competing.

That’s how they got to Sunday, and one historic victory for the Wildcats.

Buie scored 26 points and Audige had 15, leading Northwestern to a 64-58 win over Zach Edey and No. 1 Purdue.

“We put in so much work together and we’ve been through so many ups and downs,” Buie said. “It’s finally starting to show what the real us is.”

Led by its experienced backcourt and supported by a rowdy student section behind each basket, Northwestern (18-7, 9-5 Big Ten) added a signature win to its bid for the school’s second NCAA Tournament appearance. The Wildcats got their first win in 19 games against the No. 1 team in the AP poll.

Northwestern’s 18 wins are the most for the school since it went 24-12 during the 2016-17 season, losing to Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA tourney. It went 32-55 in the previous three years before finding its stride against this season.

“We had a bunch of guys that stayed the course and stayed loyal to the program and fought,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said, “and we had a great offseason.

“When you have a day like this, you know it can be emotional because you know there’s a lot of hard work by a lot of people to make this happen.”

Purdue (23-3, 12-3) had won 11 in a row against Northwestern, but the Boilermakers stumbled down the stretch. They shot just 28.6% (6 for 21) and committed 13 of their 16 turnovers in the second half.

Edey had 24 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots, but the 7-foot-4 center turned it over six times. Freshman Braden Smith had 10 points on 1-for-7 shooting.

“Just got to show more poise and toughness than we did,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said.

Edey’s hook shot lifted Purdue to a 55-47 lead with 3:52 to go. But Northwestern closed the game with a 17-3 run.

The decisive stretch began with a huge offensive rebound by Buie, setting up Audige’s 3-pointer. Audige then had a fast-break dunk, and he just kept going from there.

Audige scored 10 points in Northwestern’s dazzling finish. He gave the Wildcats the lead for good when he made a 3-pointer after an Edey turnover.

“When my team needed me, I just tried my best to be there,” Audige said. “A shot went through, and then the rim started looking a little bigger.”

Brooks Barnhizer had a fast-break layup and Buie made two foul shots in the final minute to help Northwestern hold on. When it was over, the jubilant student sections stormed the court to celebrate with the team.

“Hopefully that’ll give our guys confidence to know that you can compete with a team that’s as good as anybody in the country,” Collins said.

Painter said Buie’s offensive rebound was a big moment at the end.

“We’ve got to secure that right there,” Painter said.

Ethan Morton and Mason Gillis each made a 3-pointer to help Purdue open a 26-16 lead with 9:19 left in the first half. But Buie converted a driving layup in the final seconds, trimming the Boilermakers’ lead to 37-30 at the break.


Purdue attempted 12 foul shots in the first half and 12 in the second half, making 19 for the game. Northwestern attempted four free throws in the first half and 16 in the second, making a total of 14.

Asked if he felt the game was officiated differently in the second half, Painter responded: “Yes. A lot differently, but that’s basketball and that’s being on the road and it’s our job to adjust.”


Purdue: Led by Gillis, the Boilermakers went 5 for 9 on 3-pointers in the early going. They missed their last 13 attempts from long range. They shot 36.2% from the field overall after shooting at least 50% in their previous five games.

Northwestern: Audige stepped up after a slow start, giving the Wildcats a big boost. Northwestern also was competitive on the glass, losing 35-30 in the rebounding battle.


Purdue visits Maryland on Thursday night. The Boilermakers beat the Terrapins 58-55 on Jan. 22 at Mackey Arena.

Northwestern hosts No. 18 Indiana on Wednesday night. The Wildcats topped the Hoosiers 84-83 on Jan. 8.

Northwestern beats No. 20 Michigan State in Big Ten opener

Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Boo Buie scored 20 points and Northwestern beat No. 20 Michigan State 70-63 on Sunday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

Chase Audige added 15 points and Ty Berry had 13 for Northwestern (6-2), which ended a two-game losing streak.

“Needless to say, this was a huge win for us,” coach Chris Collins said. “Coming off our performance in the ACC-Big Ten challenge, where we lost badly on our home floor (to Pittsburgh), I was really pleased with our resolve the past couple days.”

Mady Sossoko and A.J. Hoggard each had 12 points for Michigan State (5-4) and Joey Hauser added 10. The Spartans have lost two in a row, falling to Notre Dame earlier in the week.

Hoggard cut Northwestern’s lead to 64-63 with 46 seconds left. After a timeout, Buie scored on a layup with 23 seconds left.

“We got out-toughed,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.

Northwestern took the lead late in the first half on a layup by Buie and never relinquished it, leading by as many as nine points.

“We put (the loss to Pittsburgh) under the rug,” Buie said. “We turned the page, just like we do with any win or loss. The season is so long you can’t get caught up on one single game. Just like tonight. We’re super happy with the win, but after tonight it’s over. You can’t dwell on things.”

The Wildcats went 21 of 24 on free throws, while the Spartans were 9 of 12.

“I was concerned about a knockout punch early,” Collins said. ‘I knew they would be revved up after the Notre Dame loss. They hit us early and got a seven-point lead, and then we settled down.”


Northwestern: Hosts Prairie View A&M on Dec. 11

Michigan State: At Penn State on Wednesday night.